Consumers Win as the Washington State Beverage Race Heats Up

By John ~ July 11th, 2012.

Right from the get-go, we here at Wine Peeps were supporters of Washington State’s ballot initiative, I-1183. And, as you know, we were thrilled when it passed, because it finally got the state out of the liquor business. No longer do we have bureaucrats at the WSLCB deciding what selections will be available to us as consumers of wine and spirits and what price we will pay. Instead we have a marketplace where competition will dictate selections and price.

If the first 30 days under the new law are any indication, the consumer is the big winner as we predicted. Here in the Seattle area, the established wine retailers like Wine World, Esquin, and Pete’s have entered the spirits business; as well as the big chain stores like Costco, Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer, and Metropolitan Market. Even Bartell Drugs has entered the fray.

And now two of the big-box liquor store chains have entered the Washington market, just as we expected. Both Total Wine and BevMo opened their first Washington locations on the same day, Thursday, June 28. Kori will give you a more complete rundown on both stores in the coming weeks, but I’ll give you a little sneak preview to whet your appetite.

Total Wine’s first Washington location is in Bellevue, in an old Larry’s Market location behind Nissan of the Eastside and next door to Uwajimaya. Total Wine has announced plans for other locations in Southcenter, Spokane, the University District, Alderwood, Silverdale, Federal Way, Tacoma, and Vancouver, Washington.

BevMo’s first Washington store is in Tacoma, across the street from Costco and right down the street from the Tacoma Mall. BevMo has another store opening in Silverdale and plans for a total of four or five locations.

I visited the new Total Wine location in Bellevue on their opening day, and I was literally blown away by its size, selection, the friendliness and knowledge of the staff, as well as their prices on the limited number of items I viewed. The staff person I visited with said they have 8,000 wines (including 1,800 Washington wines), 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers in a store measuring almost 30,000 square feet.

I explored the new BevMo location in Tacoma on Saturday, June 30. While not as large or as well appointed as Total Wine, it is nevertheless an impressive store with a selection of some 8,000 different wine, spirits, and beer products. BevMo also has a nice selection of specialty foods and wine accessories. Both BevMo and Total Wine are stores you should check out if there is a location near you.

One other big positive for the Washington wine business is that Washington wines will now get more national exposure. Both Total Wine (with 81 stores) and BevMo (with 117 locations) expect to carry more Washington wines at their other stores around the country as well as a result of their investment in the Washington retail market.

We’ll keep you posted as events continue to unfold, so stay tuned! It’s going to be a fun ride with the beverage consumer in Washington State in the driver’s seat…finally!

Filed under: American Wine, Miscellaneous, Washington State Wine

Reader's Comments

  1. Kris @BevMo | July 11th, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Hi there! We are thrilled to be in Washington!

    The reception from customers has been amazing. We even got to spend time with Kori at our VIP event in Tacoma and Silverdale. What a treat!

    All our new WA customers are so excited to see such a great selection of spirits, beers and wines from all over the world, including a great selection from the Northwest. The growler station is a HUGE hit with beer lovers. And our new tasting rooms are getting quite a work-out already.

    Tastings are held every weekend. No appointment necessary. Just pop in.
    Friday night 4-7pm beer tastings
    Saturday afternoon 1-4pm wine tastings

    Thanks for such a warm welcome. We look forward to seeing you, and all your readers very soon.

    your friends at BevMo!

  2. Kori | July 11th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit both of your new WA stores. We are thrilled to have BevMo in the state! Cheers!

  3. Paul Beveridge | July 15th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Great blog John! If you want to support the Washington wineries that were pro-consumer and helped get I-1183 passed, please check out Over 100 wineries working to free the grapes for Washington consumers!

  4. John | July 16th, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Thanks Paul for your comment, and thanks to the Family Wineries of Washington for supporting this legislation.